James Mattis left the Pentagon over Trump's weird relationship with Putin: Ex-Defense senior official
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis waits to welcome Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

A former chief of staff for both the CIA and Department of Defense says James Mattis left the Trump administration over the president's troubling ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Jeremy Bash, who served in both agencies during the Obama administration, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Mattis was unable to tolerate Trump parroting Russian propaganda and aligning U.S. policy with Putin's goals.

"This is fundamentally what drove Gen. Mattis to leave the Pentagon as secretary of defense," Bash said. "He watched how we were yielding to Russia on a variety of issues and he watched the way we announced this pullout of Syria, which was a total gift to the Kremlin."

"It emboldened Russia, emboldened Iran, emboldened (Bashar al-)Assad, who is of course Russia's client," he added, "and allowed the Iranians to build a land bridge from Teheran through northern Iran through Iraq, though Syria and ultimately through Lebanon. I think Jim Mattis and other foreign policy hawks, if you will, are looking at this and saying, 'What has become American foreign policy in the age of Trump?' We have ultimately yielded our national interests to the interests of Vladamir Putin."